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Dale’s Diary: Bad political weather stops Ed Balls parachuting into Coventry

Dale’s Diary: Bad political weather stops Ed Balls parachuting into Coventry

🕔12.May 2015

The rumour mill has been whirling at breakneck speed since the scale of Labour’s General Election defeat became clear, but there can surely be few more amazing claims than Ed Balls is to be parachuted into Coventry to resume his dazzling political career, says Paul Dale.

Balls lost his Yorkshire seat of Morley and Outwood by 422 votes, so naturally the search is on to find a suitable billet for such an incredible talent. And this being the Labour party, people are obviously looking for links to the kind of people who have been so helpful to Ed in the past and might be prepared to do him a big favour.

Stand up Geoffrey Robinson, rich pal of Tony Blair and uber-Brownite, who has often eulogised the far-sighted economic brain of Mr Balls, and happens to have been MP for Coventry North-west for 39 years.

As luck would have it, Mr Robinson, 76, appeared earlier this year to be most unsure about fighting yet another election campaign in Coventry. There were claims that he would stand down to allow some up and coming young Labour star and former aide to Gordon Brown  to inherit his seat – quickly denied by Labour, and Robinson duly stood and won the seat.

That might have been that, but for a Twitter comment by New Statesman editor Jason Cowley on May 10: “Whisper it but will Geoffrey Robinson fall on his sword offering his dear friend @edballsmp a route back to the Commons? If not now, when?”

Robinson, it should be remembered, owned the New Statesman until 2008.

Cowley’s message was followed by a tweet from one Damion Gannon, cabinet finance member at Coventry city council and a key player in the Coventry North West Labour party: “Ed Balls is one of the party’s best talents but CNW CLP will want a fair and open process.”

Coventry city councillor Jayne Innes got in on the act, but didn’t sound too keen on a swift coronation for Mr Balls: “Cov NW needs diverse long list – I’ve already said I’ll help put it together.”

Then Innes put the boot in: “Personally I don’t want Cov NW to have someone who was rejected by voters elsewhere.”

In the unlikely event that Mr Robinson did stand down and Mr Balls was selected to fight the seat, would Ed stand much chance of winning a by-election? Geoffrey’s majority fell from 6,288 in 2010 to 4,509 at the 2015 General Election, and the media circus likely to be attracted by a Balls by-election would make the result most uncertain for Labour.

It is reported from well-placed sources in Coventry today that Mr Robinson has no intention of standing down.

It would appear therefore that the Balls for Coventry move is, well, just balls.

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